Farm to Fork: Sacramento is a Hidden Slow Food Paradise

Written by: Joshua MacAran

A colorful, vibrant plate of Hangar steak, spinach salad, and frites.

Hangar steak and arugula spinach salad, chimichurri, Point Reyes blue cheese, Riverdog cherry tomatoes, and frites.

Many praise San Francisco’s gourmet restaurants, but few know of Sacramento‘s deeply rooted farm to fork restaurant culture. Let’s take a glance at the local slow food scene.

Our first stop is Mulvaney’s Building & Loan. Mulvaney’s is tucked away in a historic brick firehouse in midtown Sacramento. You might not realize it’s a restaurant until you peer inside and notice the mahogany chairs, lilies in vases decorating white clothed tables, and a throng of happy customers enjoying dishes such as Braised Martin Emigh Ranch Leg of Lamb with Mint Salsa Verde or 28 Day Dry Aged Niman Ranch Rib Eye with Huckleberry Jus. Mulvaney’s is owned by passionate locavore and chef extraordinaire Patrick Mulvaney. Mr. Mulvaney has combined the highest degree of fine dining expertise with a firm commitment to using organic produce from local farms and organic meat from local ranches. Mulvaney’s boasts a menu that changes every day to reflect what is available in the region. His excellent service, top tier food, and commitment to locavorism has garnered a wide following in the Sacramento region.

Our next stop is anything but a hole in the wall, but you’ll find no sign out front. Nonetheless The Kitcen is packed every night, with reservations booked for the next six months or longer. The Kitchen is no ordinary fine dining restaurant. Each dinner is a seven course meal prepared entirely with local organic produce, meat, and seafood (to the tune of $125 per person, plus wine!) . This fall, you’ll find dishes such as Pumpkin Bisque and Oxtail-Duck Confit or Braeburn Apple Pie with Nancy’s Butter-Chocolate Crunch Ice Cream and Apple Fries. Parts of the meal are prepared as you watch, and there is an almost vaudevillian performance by the chefs for your entertainment. You will learn about all of the ingredients and preparation that have gone into your meal while laughing at the wit and antics of head chef Noah Zonca. The Kitchen has been called the French Laundry of Sacramento and it’s no surprise that their dining room is always full.

The last in our trifecta of farm to fork fine dining moguls is Paragary’s Bar & Oven. Paragary’s has been using locally produced ingredients for over 25 years, marking them as a restaurant far ahead of their time. Their wood-burning oven gives their dishes a unique flavor that is difficult to find in fine dining today. Come for the Housemade Butternut Squash Ravioli or the Pan-Seared King Salmon with roasted cauliflower, butternut squash, brussels sprout leaves, and hazelnut salsa verde. Stay for the Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake with espresso gelato. Enjoy it all on their back patio surrounded by gnarled olive trees, waterfalls, and a massive stone fireplace.

This is just a small sample of the slow food culture Sacramento has to offer. Other local favorite include Magpie Catering, Ella Dining Room and Bar, and the Hot Italian, just to name a few. At a time when more and more people are seeking farm to fork cuisine cooked to perfection, Sacramento is at the forefront of the movement.

Houston Farm-to-Table Restaurant Celebrates 1-year Anniversary

Seared Grass served at Sorrel Urban Bistro

Seared Grass served over Local Vegetables

Written by: Brittany Bluford

Houston– July 19 carries many historical events: Apollo II orbited the moon, Christa McAuliffe was chosen for space flight and XXVI Olympic games opened in Atlanta, Georgia. A Houston restaurant also shares a memorable moment on this popular date.

On July 19, 2012 Sorrel Urban Bistro, the farm-to-table eatery named one of the Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S., will celebrate its 1-year anniversary. To commemorate 365 days of success, Sorrel wants to carry a message of gratitude to its loyal patrons with a celebration. The event, which will be 9 p.m. -11 p.m. July 19 at 2202 West Alabama, will feature Ciroc Liquor tastings, complimentary hor d’ oeuvres and a cash bar.

The 1-year celebration, open to regular guests and first timers, will take place in the warm, fine dining atmosphere, so attendees can expect to enjoy all the familiar features of the Bistro that has made it a success this past year. The dining room, bar area and covered patio will be open for Houstonians to mingle and celebrate.

Sorrel has a lot to celebrate. Owner, Ray Salti and Executive Chef Soren Pedersen’s vision was to bring everyday farm-fresh dining to more Houstonians, and each week the restaurant serves hundreds of guests. Also, the restaurant has gained the support of local media, business and publications.

“We wouldn’t have made it this far without our customers. It’s not about us, but it’s about them. Sorrel Urban Bistro doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to Houstonians, and we hope they come and celebrate,” says Salti.

The 9 p.m.-11 p.m. slot is usually reserved for reverse happy hour Tuesday thru Saturday, but it will still be a happy two hours for the guests who attend this year. Black Razz Chocolate Kiss and The Wolfberry Lemon Fizz are two of the cocktails made especially for the anniversary party.

Sorrel entered the Houston scene July 2011 with a vision to bring farm-to-table dining to the area. It’s hard to believe that a completely different concept would be welcomed to Houston with open arms. After less than a year, the bistro has gained an impressive Twitter and Facebook following, and has a great number of visits each week.

Sorrel Urban Bistro’s mission is to serve high quality, moderately priced meals in a charming, welcoming atmosphere, and the restaurant continues to stand behind its promise with the support of Houston, its staff and sourced farms.

Local Organic Farms Are A Healthy Resource

You can find a variety of fresh, organic foods at local farms and farmer's markets

The summer is about to come upon us and with the ray of sunshine comes the full bloom of the local farmer’s markets.  And while this is a great time of the year to shop there for organic produce, there are stores and small farms that sell items throughout the year.

Shopping at local farms or farmer’s markets is a great way to support your city’s economy.  It also promotes healthier food choices and helps keep organic farmers in business.

Organic produce that is grown at the local level has amazing benefits that you won’t find in imported or statewide food.  It is the freshest you can get without growing it yourself in your own backyard.  In fact, there are u-pick farms available that give you this opportunity.  The soil that these farmers use is rich in nutrients, unlike that of the mass production farms, which use harmful pesticides supposedly linked to ADHD in children.

There is a variety of food available from local farms like honey, eggs, produce, homemade soap, and even dog treats.  It is well finding out about and many farmer’s markets and local farms are listed right online.  Local organic produce is a healthy and fresh choice for you and your family.